Crow’s feet. Mention the phrase to anyone who has them and you’re likely to get a self-directed “ugh!”
These lines or wrinkles extending from the eye’s outer corners are also called laugh lines. Yet despite this cheerful moniker, they’re rarely the cause for happiness in their owners.
Can you avoid the development of these pesky lines? And on the other hand – are you sure you even want to? Here’s the lowdown on crow’s feet, and one surprising reason you may actually want to embrace them.
Why We Get Crow’s Feet
When a child smiles, you’ll see tiny lines extending from the outer corners of his eyes. But when he stops smiling, they go away. Why doesn’t that happen with adult skin?
The answer amounts to two things: intrinsic and extrinsic aging.
Intrinsic means “from within.” The process of aging means your skin loses its elasticity; hence it doesn’t automatically bounce back into a firm appearance. Genetics contributes to this; if your mother and her father had early appearing crow’s feet, for example, you’re much more likely to get them earlier rather than later.
Extrinsic means “from without.” This is the part of the equation we have the potential to control. Outside factors may make crow’s feet appear earlier and have a deeper appearance. Let’s explore a few of these factors and what you can do to minimize them.
Aging Factor: The Sun
Perhaps the largest portion of skin aging can be put down to sun exposure. UV rays cause damage that’s often irreversible. This damage happens early and often: even in overcast weather, we may be exposed to damaging rays.
What You Can Do About It: Always wear sunscreen when outdoors, even on overcast days. Choose products that are gentle to the eyes. When you wear makeup, make sure it contains SPF of 15 or greater.
Aging Factor: Environmental Pollution
Pollutants in the air not only clog our pores and irritate the skin, they may also contain free radicals, which contribute to aging of the skin. The irritation factor also means that puffiness around the lines may be greater, deepening the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
What You Can Do About It: Cleanse your face twice daily and exfoliate once a week to rid your skin of pollution and toxins. Choose eye care products that contain antioxidants, which are free radical scavengers – in other words, they collect these irritants so that you can later wash them away.
Aging Factor: Smoking
Smoking has a tremendous impact on the skin, as well as the whole body. A smoker also squints much more often than a non-smoker, as the smoke as well as nicotine itself are eye irritants. In general, a smoker will show signs of aging on the skin much earlier than a non-smoker.
What You Can Do About It: This one is easy. Don’t smoke! Yes, we know, easier said than done. We won’t go into the many health reasons for quitting smoking (or for not starting in the first place); you already know those. For the purposes of this article, just know that if you’re smoking, you’re aging faster than a non-smoker, and it will eventually show.
Aging Factor: Gravity
Unless you’d like to move to a different planet, there isn’t anything you can do about gravity and its effects over time on tugging downward on your skin. Likewise with time: it marches on, and you do lose elasticity in your skin the older you get.
What You Can Do About It: Don’t stop smiling! Look for eye creams that have firming properties and collagen boosters to strengthen your skin. Another option: try eye exercises! Yes, these really can work. By toning the muscles around the eyes, you are creating a firmer foundation for the skin to lie on.
Now That You Know All About Them … Are You Sure You Want to Get Rid of Them?
Now here’s a surprising fact: crow’s feet that appear when you’re smiling may actually make you appear more attractive in some ways, according to Belgian researchers.
In a recent study where men were show pictures of people smiling, those who had “laugh lines” were judged to be smarter and more authentic. The pictures were also said to make the smiler more attractive in general.
On the other hand, the study emphasized that this general good feeling was garnered when the person was smiling, not necessarily when crow’s feet were present in the absence of smiling.
Our take? You’ve earned those lines; whatever you do with them, know that you’re beautiful, both inside and out. Life was meant to be embraced, lived fully and to be filled with laughter and good times. So don’t stop smiling – a look of joy truly is what makes a person gorgeous.